Workplace bullying has been more talked about recently than in prior years, and leadership teams have been doing a better, more effective job of preventing and eliminating it in the workplace. Workplace bullying can take place virtually anywhere, but if a zero-tolerance approach is embedded into a company’s culture starting at the top, it tends to be more effective as it gets disseminated far and wide throughout an organization and its team members.
Workplace bullying can include behaviors such as verbal criticism, personal attacks, humiliation, belittling, spiteful, offensive mocking, intimidating or exclusion. Workplace bullying is harmful and is targeted behavior that happens at work. Workplace bullying tends to be directed at one person or a few people at one time.
According to a survey by the Workplace Bullying Institute, 30% of workers have directly experienced bullying while at work. People who work remotely were more likely to report such bullying, with 43.2% responding that they had been bullied on the job.
It’s important for leadership teams to be aware of these signs of bullying and the negative impact it can have on a workplace so that it can be quickly identified and handled accordingly:
Here are a handful of examples of workplace bullying:
- Dismissing someone’s efforts on a project or task
- Embarrassing people in front of their employer, co-workers, or clients deliberately
- Intimidating people with use of tone, written communication, or facial expressions
- Taking credit for other people’s work
- Targeted jokes
- Threats, verbal abuse, and humiliation
What impact does bullying have on someone?
Bullying can have a significant impact on someone that can range from physical and mental health issues. Similarly, to domestic violence, bullying can cause a person to abandon their job at a moment’s notice without another job lined up. If the individual cannot leave due to financial circumstances and must remain at that job, their physical health and mental effects can be negatively impacted as well.
Here are a handful of examples of the negative impact workplace bullying can have:
- Feeling physically ill
- Lack of sleep
- Mental health declining
- An autoimmune disease flares up
Bullying in the workplace has a negative impact on the workplace and company culture which often results in an organization performing poorly and its business suffering. Companies who fall victim to workplace bullying will often experience:
- Significant decreases in employee productivity
- Increases in turnover rates
- Suffering team dynamics
- A lack of trust in leadership from staff
As leaders, it is our job to ensure that we build a strong, healthy foundation within our organization for respectful, transparent, and trustworthy communication with one another.
Here are three ways that leaders can embrace trustworthiness, safety, and mental health awareness within their organizations:
Lead By Example
The only way that a team will embrace an empathetic, kind, and empowering company culture is if its leaders embrace it though their actions day in and day out. It’s important to support the company culture that you preach about with your actions. Whether times are good or times are bad, it’s critical to show your team that you can be there for them and help solve whatever problems or challenges everyone is up against rather than merely trying to point a finger at someone to make yourself look better. Show your team honesty, trustworthiness, and humility, and you’ll likely see it demonstrated among them.
Set a Standard for How People Are Treated In Your Organization and Stick To It
Too often a company brings in a new hire, top talent from another organization, and allows them to overstep boundaries because they’re extraordinary at what they do. Teams and individuals pick up on this quickly and take it as broken trust. No matter who it is, no matter how good they might be at their role, they do not get a free pass for workplace bullying. Your team will respect that, and in turn know that this is a safe place to work, collaborate, and communicate.
Check-In With Your Team to Show Them You’re There For Them When They Need You, Not Just When You Need Them
How often does a leader check-in with you to see how you’re doing or make sure that you have everything you need to complete the task they handed you? Some might say on a regular basis, while others might say rarely. Being a leader who checks in with their people to see if there is anything they can do to help support them pays dividends in the long run. Employees who feel seen and heard will almost always demonstrate greater trust, loyalty, respect, and this transpires into increased productivity and performance. Having a relationship with your team that empowers them to come to you if they see workplace bullying will help eliminate high turnover rates, HR complaints, and a plethora of other unnecessary distractions that put a damper on accomplishing greatness with a team.
At the end of the day, addressing workplace bullying is the right thing to do no matter how you look at it. Doing the right thing will always be the right thing.
Written by Christina DiArcangelo.
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